- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Black Irish Entertainment LLC (April 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936891352
- ISBN-13: 978-1936891351
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
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About the Author
Shawn Coyne is a twenty-five year book-publishing veteran. He's edited, published or represented works from James Bamford, John Brenkus, James Lee Burke, Barbara Bush, Dick Butkus, Harlan Coben, Nellie Connally, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Ben Crenshaw, Catherine Crier, Brett Favre, David Feherty, John Feinstein, Tyler Florence, Jim Gant, Col. David H. Hackworth, Jamie Harrison, Mo Hayder, William Hjortsberg, Stephen Graham Jones, Jon Krakauer, David Leadbetter, Alan Lomax, David Mamet, Troon McAllister, Robert McKee, Matthew Modine, Bill Murray, Joe Namath, John J. Nance, Jack Olsen, Scott Patterson, Steven Pressfield, Matthew Quirk, Anita Raghavan, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Jerry Rice, Giora Romm, Tim Rosaforte, William Safire, Dava Sobel, Michael Thomas, Nick Tosches, Ann Scott Tyson, Minette Walters, Betty White, Randy Wayne White, Steven White, and Don Winslow among many others.
During his years as an editor at the Big Five publishing houses, as an independent publisher, as a literary agent both at a major Hollywood talent agency and as head of Genre Management Inc., and as a bestselling co-writer (The Ones Who Hit The Hardest with Chad Millman)and ghostwriter, Coyne created a methodology called The Story Grid to each the editing craft.
With his friend, business partner and client Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art,Coyne also runs the independent publishing company Black Irish Books and writes for www.stevenpressfield.com and www.storygrid.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
So, why do you need this if you're a writer or trying to be one?
Shawn teaches a way of understanding good story form and function from an editors perspective, and he does it very well. By the time you've re-read something (and if you're smart, gone to his blog and read through the comments/questions and follow up) you'll have a deeper understanding of WHY good writing works. And by good writing, I'm talking about good story, commercial and popular fiction. Genre fiction. Stuff that sells.
I've been studying this story grid stuff for months now, and while I'm still a beginner, I can say, I've not only learned a lot, I've learned what it is I need to learn. What I didn't know I didn't know is now becoming apparent to me.
Okay, so let's say you haven't yet become a writer. Well, you might need this book first (or at least in conjunction with The Story Grid): Story Engineering as in this book, Brooks explains how to outline BEFORE you start writing.
Shawn's book here explains how to take that rough draft and figure out what's wrong and what's right. "Working/not working" is an important thing to know.
You need to be able to answer: "Do I have the proper conventions and devices in this story to fit into the genre I'm trying to write for?" And you need to be able to answer questions about scenes turning properly (having a purpose) and many other things (problems/mistakes) that aren't always apparent and that this "story grid" model is designed to help you find and fix.
This book helps a TON with figuring all that out.
While it's not exactly a "planning" book, I still suggest using it for that. Case in point: for me, I'd started a lot of stories before, without good planning and without understanding exactly what I needed to do. I did read the book I mentioned above (actually 3 times) but I was still stuck. I got into this material and in a three week period I cranked out a eighty thousand word rough draft. I felt like I'd climbed Mount Everest. To be fair, I give a lot of credit to other writers and books like this: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles so I'm not saying Shawn Coyne is a magical fairy, BUT I am saying he explains things in such a way that you "get it", and I "got it". Getting it allows you to be creative. I can't emphasize that enough. This book is not about some formula that will make you a creative genius, this book is an explanation on how to take your genius and funnel and channel it properly into a book people will enjoy, read and buy and recommend to others.
Okay, so what next? I finished my rough draft and then went to work on it trying to figure out how to edit (and just for the record, this is NOT a primer on line editing). Editing is very very hard. I mean, it's the real deal. I could crank out a full length novel in rough draft every two weeks if I didn't have to worry about editing, oh and my day job.
Editing is tough, and mysterious and crazy and hard. Did I mention editing is hard?
If you want to write a book people want to read (and buy) then you have to edit well. And, again, I don't mean that you use proper English grammar and not overuse semicolons. I mean that you have to have a good story structure that follows the genre requirements and conventions (or breaks the rules that you understand and because you have mastered them, etc.).
I'm far from being good at this. I've tried to "story grid" my rough draft and it's hard. It's hard to know if you are seeing it "correctly" and it's not always objective either, it's a subjective art.
But I feel like I've received a college education from working through this material and I highly recommend it.
I think you'll feel the same.
Again, I did buy this, I do review a lot and get free stuff, but this is the real deal and I'm not writing this for any other reason than it's a great book and very, extremely in fact, helpful.
If you're a serious writer or want to be one, there is no excuse not to add this book to your library.
His presentation of ideas is a little repetitive but it's good and he expands and gives examples of what he talks about in early chapters in later ones. I feel better organization could have helped the flow of it overall - there's many points where he says "and this is really important and part of this, but we'll talk about it in six chapters or so" which is awkward.
That said, more examples of some of the things he discusses would have been welcome - he breaks down mystery novels and their needed "required" scenes very well in one chapter, but never touches on other genres - which I feel might not be as easy or obvious to break down and really could have used some exploration.
Overall I learned a good deal and appreciated it... but... .
He was a little heavy handed in a few places in the book with anecdotes of "I tried to help this person, but they didn't listen, and look, they're a failure" ... which I don't find very useful, helpful or anything really but him bad mouthing someone. Those parts left me feeling a bit of distaste for the author despite the good advice I thought he had to offer otherwise.
There was also a generally feeling of being talked down to. Some authors can do conversational and friendly, this was more arrogant and lecturing... I appreciated the content of the lectures, but it was a little strange being lectured.
Ever take a course with a professor who knows their stuff but isn't someone you actually like? This book is that experience on paper.